Former House Majority Leader Dick Armey (R-TX) appeared as a witness for the Republican bicameral hearing on climate change legislation yesterday on Capitol Hill. Along with a cadre of polluter CEOs and Chamber of Commerce officials, Armey played his part leveling an array of attacks on any effort to transition to a clean energy economy.
As the hearing progressed, most of the witnesses spent their time recycling months-old debunked studies. But Armey distinguished himself by invoking a religious argument to back up his smears against what he called “environmental hypochondriacs” filled with “eco-evangelical hysteria.” Armey claimed that in his world view, because God created the heavens and the Earth, it would be “quite pretentious” for people to believe God would permit global warming to even occur:
DICK ARMEY: What I’m suggesting is we have a sort of an eco-evangelical hysteria going on and it leads me to almost wonder if we are becoming a nation of environmental hypochondriacs that are willing to use the power of the state to impose enormous restrictions on the rights and the comforts of, and incomes of individuals who serve essentially a paranoia, a phobia, that has very little fact evidence in fact. Now these are observations that are popular to make because right now its almost taken as an article of faith that this crisis is real. Let me say I take it as an article of faith if the lord God almighty made the heavens and the Earth, and he made them to his satisfaction and it is quite pretentious of we little weaklings here on earth to think that, that we are going to destroy God’s creation. [...]
SEN. ORRIN HATCH: Mr. Armey it’s great to have you here. Great to see you again and we appreciate all you’ve done throughout the years and your work on Capitol Hill. Great job.
Despite Armey’s claims, global warming is very real and has already caused great damage to creation. Indeed, though Armey would like to create a false dichotomy between people who want to stop global warming and people who believe in God, no such gap exists. A Faith and Public Life poll found 63% of Catholics and 50% of white evangelicals want the federal government to do more to address climate change. Pope Benedict XVI has called for a greater focus on the environment, saying “if you want to promote peace, safeguard creation.”
Armey’s use of faith to demonize clean energy reform should come as no surprise. After promoting a polluter agenda for many years in Congress, Armey became a lobbyist for the firm DLA Piper, which represents many interests with a stake against curbing greenhouse gas emissions:
–- DLA Piper represents Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Prime Minister of the UAE, on energy related issues such as maintaining the U.S.-UAE relationship where “U.S companies have played major roles in the development of UAE energy resources, which represent about 10 percent of global oil reserves.” [US Department of Justice, accessed 7/30/09]
– DLA Piper recently signed on Colonial Oil as a new client. [Senate Lobbying Disclosures, accessed 7/30/09]
– DLA Piper represents Irving Oil, lobbying directly on clean energy reform legislation. [Senate Lobbying Disclosures, accessed 7/30/09]
After leaving Congress, Armey became the head of Citizens for a Sound Economy, a right-wing front group funded largely by oil companies like ExxonMobil. CSE later morphed into the astroturf organization known as FreedomWorks, which Armey has used to orchestrate the vicious anti-Obama tea party rallies. And, as ThinkProgress has documented, though FreedomWorks purports to fight on behalf of a purely free market ideology, Armey has used FreedomWorks to whip up “grassroots” support for the clients he represents.